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HB 1632 Q&A

In July 2013, Washington enacted a law requiring license plates on All Terrain Vehicles, HB 1632. Below are the answers to common questions regarding the law.

In July 2013, Washington enacted a law requiring license plates on All Terrain Vehicles, HB 1632. Below are the answers to common questions regarding the law. 

Accountability for ATV riders
Accountability for ATV riders

How will HB 1632 reduce illegal and harmful ATV use?
The new law provides accountability. Yesterday, someone could ride roughshod with anonymity. This bill requires all ATV’s to display a visible license plate and sets a hefty (up to $500) fine for violations. Citations can be issued based on evidence  collected by a citizen (e.g., a photo of the illegal use with its ID plate).

How extensive is ATV abuse?

By DNR estimates, unethical ATV riding has created 3-6,000 miles of illegal trail on Washington state lands alone, which is 3 to 6 times that of the legal mileage. ATV trespass costs ranchers and tree farmers millions of dollars annually in property damage.

Are these policies in place elsewhere?
Yes. A number of other states have adopted visible ID requirements, which is considered the best single step to reduce ATV abuse.

How does the bill promote responsible ATV use?

The bill immediately opens roads meeting certain criteria (e.g., under 35 mph) in the five counties with populations lower than 15,000. Larger counties may opt-in. Towns and cities may also opt-in. Such open roads can then be ridden on by street-legal, licensed ATV’s driven by a person with a valid driver’s license.

Do ATV interests support the bill?

Some opposed it out of fear of ending wanton illegal riding. But many responsible ATV riders, clubs, and communities actively supported the bill.

Why did some ATV interests support the bills?

The new policy will help clean up the sport and improve the reputation of ATV recreation, possibly leading eventually to expanded access and privileges. Also the bill provides immediate access for ATV riding on certain low speed rural roads in certain counties, which something that many riders and rural communities want.

Do all conservationist groups support the bill?

No. Some groups feel ATVs don't belong on rural roads, a concern that WA State Patrol shares, or they fear it will lead to more access and abuse on public lands.

How does Conservation Northwest feel about those concerns?

Our focus is reducing illegal and damaging use. The bill is specifically designed to not change ATV access decisions that public land managers make, so trails/roads that are presently off limits should remain so. Conservation Northwest is optimistic that illegal use will be reduced both by the accountability created by the visible plates and high fines, and by the culture of self-policing that this effort is helping to foster among the ATV community. The bill is a huge step forward from the status quo of not only epidemic backcountry abuse, but numerous counties opening ATV access to roads (under and obscure 2005 statute) without license plates, speed limits, drivers licenses, or other considerations. Read Mitch's blog upon passage of HB 1632.

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